Thinking of John Didion

Jun 3, 2016 | 4 comments

Saint John DidionThe headline on Facebook from The Oregonian/OregonLive read: John Didion, former Oregon State center on College Football Hall of Fame ballot.  Actually, it said “Fooball” which made me smile even more, if that’s possible.  I was so pleased for John’s family and for John, too, for that matter.  Somehow, I’m sure he’s heard the news.  After all, he was a (New Orleans) Saint from 1969 to 1974 and I have no doubt that he is among a greater company of saints now.

I know zip about the College Football Hall of Fame or how you get into it so I did a little research.  First of all, it was launched in 1951 by the National Football Foundation to immortalize the players and coaches of college football. So far, 977 players and 211 coaches are included.  They represent 305 schools.

According to the online article: John Didion is one of 75 players on the 2017 College Football Hall of Fame Ballot, the National Football Foundation released Wednesday. Didion was a key part of the Beavers’ famed “Giant Killers” and a two-time All-American, earning unanimous first-team honors in 1968. 

John Didion

John Didion (1947-2013)

Like most of us in Pacific County, I remember John as our County Sheriff (1998-2010) and, before that, as the D.A.R.E. officer who came to my classroom year after year to instruct children in “Drug Abuse Resistance Education.”  Before that, back in the mid-seventies, I remember him as the young man who dug the hole for my septic tank when he was working for his father-in-law Bill Niemi.  I knew him as the brother of my colleague Sue and uncle of the three Anderson kids whom I taught in the 80s.  I remember him as one of ‘the good guys’ and one of the nicest men I’ve been privileged to know.

In recent weeks and months, John has been much on my mind.  It was John who discovered the first Pacific County Jail log book in the back of his office closet and brought it to me back in 2010.  He thought I might find it of interest… and, of course, I did.  Jailhouse Stories from Early Pacific County is the result.  Though it makes its official debut June 13th on bookstore shelves, a few advanced copies of Jailhouse Stories are ‘out.’  The very first one should have been for John.


  1. Stephanie Frieze

    John was such an asset to the community in everything he did. I worked at Hilltop when he came weekly to talk to the 6th graders about substance abuse. There is still debate as to how effect DARE was, but I am sure it didn’t hurt those children to have a wonderful role model, towering through the door, to literally look up to. And I felt safer knowing he was the Sheriff. Pacific County was lucky to have him.

  2. Kathleen Sayce

    The OSU magazine comes to our house too, and it was wonderful to read about his college years. Most players do not have great lives after professional ball, yet John was a wonderful exception. He reinvented himself again and again, and just kept going. We were very lucky to have him in our community.

  3. Ky Huggins

    I was a student at OSU when John was on that team. Quite a group assembled by Dee Andros. I was unaware of his contributions to Pacific County. Nice read.


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